We all have anxiety, but some of us have it more than others. It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re going on a job interview or on a first date, and—believe it or not—it can actually be healthy, as a little bit of anxiety can help push us forward and get us through difficult experiences by lending them a sense of urgency.
While many of us can handle our momentary lapses into anxiety just fine, anxiety can be a crippling, painful, physically wrenching experience for those suffering more heavily.
If it’s like that for you, then perhaps it’s time you consider doing something about it. Here, we’ve got 8 easy tips to help you handle your anxiety.
1. Get Some Sleep: Are you sleeping enough? If not, you could be making your anxiety and stress a lot worse than it needs to be. Not getting a full night’s sleep can wreak havoc on your internal sense of well-being and make you feel hyper-discombobulated. That can lead to feelings of anxiousness and anxiety like no other.
2. Stay healthy: Eating well and exercising regularly can help stave off anxiety—when you’re feeling physically healthy it’s easier to feel mentally healthy and on top of your game. There are some foods that are recognized as good mood-foods, so you may want to give those a shot: nuts, soy, milk and yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, dark orange vegetables, broth soups, legumes, citrus, wheat germ, tart cherries, and berries have all been shown to help improve your state of mind.
3. Take control: Anxiety is deeply connected to the sense that everything in your life is spiraling out of control. In reality? It’s not. But that pervading sense that your world is falling apart can feel deeply convincing. In order to help get your anxiety on lock, it’s sometimes helpful to do what you can to put things in order.
That could mean rearranging your apartment, or cleaning your desk area. Or it could mean devising a daily check list to make sure you’re accomplishing the most important things you need to do each day. Anxiousness makes you feel helpless, so whatever you can do to empower yourself to feel in control and on top of your own destiny is a good thing.
4. Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen?” A lot of anxiety is managing your greatest fears—and the fact that you often have no ability to control them. When you face those fears head on, acknowledge them, and then let them go, you may find that you actually feel much better. Once you recognize your worst fears and tell them to other people, they can sometimes begin to seem a bit silly and overwrought. Not because your fears aren’t real, but because you may come to realize that worrying about them constantly won’t actually help you do anything about them, and that they often look larger in your own mind.
5. Consider meditation and yoga: Meditation and yoga can help calm your harried, stressed brain, and get you to a mellow place mentally. Even if you’re no good at meditation (and a lot of us aren’t), learning yoga breathing techniques can give you the skills you need to self-soothe the next time you feel a panic attack coming on.
6. Tune out: Studies show that sometimes the best thing you can do for anxiety is to detach from it. Learn to watch your life from a distance for a minute or two—to turn your life into a movie, and let go of the internal judgments you’re constantly feeding yourself. You know the ones we’re talking about, the ones that tell you you’re good or bad, a success or a failure. Getting some distance from those thoughts can help get you out of the cycle of anxiety.
7. Talk to your doctor: We’re not doctors, which is why we recommend that if your anxiety is feeling especially crippling, you should talk to yours about more advanced ways of treating it. Many, many people suffer from anxiety—around 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder—so you’re not alone.
8. Be kind to yourself: Don’t beat yourself because you sometimes have a hard time dealing with the world. We all do. Treat yourself—and your anxiety—with the same kindness and thoughtfulness that you would a friend.